Chaumet – A Jeweller Admired by Napoleon I

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Chaumet
A Chaumet diamond and onyx tiara made in 1921.

The French jeweller Chaumet on Place Vendôme in Paris has been designing and creating precious high-jewellery pieces, tiaras for royal women and exceptional watches since 1780. The Maison’s great reputation enabled it to become one of the most famous and renowned jewellers in the world.

Ever since Chaumet became the jeweller of kings and emperors, its unique way of jewellery-making has been characterised by excellent taste and painstaking attention to detail.

Chaumet
A historical jewel sketch.
Chaumet
The Russian Princess Yusupov wearing the Yusupov Sunburst Tiara created in 1914

Born to Succeed

The history of Maison Chaumet goes hand in hand with the history of France and of Europe. It was born in the Napoleonic Era, when the famous Napoleon I chose its founder Marie-Étienne Nitot. Napoleon’s first wife, Empress Joséphine, loved jewellery so much that her taste and ideas were reflected in the royal ceremonial jewels adorned with diamonds and pearls. His second wife, Marie Louise, was the instigator of the golden age of neoclassical jewellery. After the reign of Napoleon III and Eugenie, Chaumet’s jewellery became more eclectic, with a touch of innovativeness. Chaumet displayed its jewels for the first time at an international exhibition in the 19th century. Inspired by the Far East, the French jeweller made jewels and silverware with oriental elements and exotic motifs. Later on, Art Déco jewellery in 1920s was epitomized by Chaumet’s own creations reflecting the inimitable Parisian style and spirit.

Invariable Design

Chaumet has excelled in the world of high jewellery for more than 230 years and employed lots of talented jewellery designers. Diamonds and gemstones are carefully selected for their exceptional purity and sparkle and sculpted into the jeweller’s signature pear-shaped cut. Over the centuries Chaumet’s meticulous craftsmanship has remained the same despite the large number of master jewellers the Maison has taken on; Marie-Étienne Nitot (1780 – 1809), François – Regnault Nitot (1809 – 1815), Jean-Baptiste Fossin (1815 – 1845), Jean Valentin Morel (1834 – 1840), Jules Fossin (1845 – 1861), Prosper Morel (1861 – 1889), Joseph Chaumet (1889 – 1928) and Marcel Chaumet (1928 – 1958).

Jewellery as Art

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The birth of a jewel…

Chaumet often finds inspiration in nature – forests, meadows, beautiful gardens, birds and flowers – using it to add a touch of sophistication to its designs. Since its foundation in 1780, the Maison has made over 2,000 tiaras for its royal and aristocratic clients and even though their design changes all the time, the characteristic features remain the same. The process of creating these delicate and extraordinary pieces of jewellery always begins with design drawings that have been over the long decades influenced by art movements, such as Romanticism, Naturalism, Belle Époque and Art Déco. The brand’s heritage and history are well-documented in thousands of sketches, drawings and photographs.

Chaumet has recently launched the Imperial Splendours exhibition at the Palace Museum in Beijing. Visitors have the opportunity to witness the jewellery house’s history and the convergence of Parisian High Jewellery and China, since many of Chaumet’s designs were inspired by Chinese culture. The exhibition also showcases many other decorative art objects born of the collaboration between this extraordinary jeweller and world-famous artists. The jewels and ornaments for the exhibition were borrowed mainly from French museums – the Louvre, the Museum of Napoleon I housed in the Palace of Fontainebleau, the Château de Compiègne – and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Maison Chaumet plans to keep designing and making unique jewels to be worn by its prominent clientele for prestigious occasions and to continue to dazzle its fans with sparkling new creations.

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Text: Michaela Mičatková, photo: Chaumet